Wado-Ryu is a style of Karate or Jujutsu (Jujitsu).
Note: Many will argue as to whether this is a style of Karate or Jujutsu.
A unique point about Wado-Ryu is that Wado-Ryu Karate is a mixture of Shindo-Yoshin-Ryu Jujutsu and Karate.
Contrary to other styles of karate which were introduced to Japan from Okinawa as a Karate around 1922. Wado-Ryu developed as Japanese Karate and Jujutsu Kenpo.
While some find Wado-Ryu similar to Shotokan Karate, enough differences exist in perspective and technique that it stands by itself.
Breaking down the characters into the proper Japanese Romaji, you have "wa dou ryuu" or "wa dō ryū". The meaning is roughly-translated as "Harmony Way Style" or "Peace Method Style". The first Kanji should probably be read as harmony, rather than peace in this case.
The Founder of Wadoryu Karate.
Hironori-Ohtsuka was born in Shimodate City, Ibiragi, Japan on the 1st June 1892.
He was the first son of Tokujiro-Ohtsuka, who was a doctor of medicine. 1892 was also the year that the Dai-Nippon-Butoku-Kai was established.
He started training under Chojiro-Ebashi, an uncle of his mother, in April 1897 at the age of four, a style of training he would continue with, even at Waseda University in Tokyo In 1905 Ohtsuka-Hironori entered the Shimozuma middle school, where he started Shindo-Yoshin-ryu Ju-jutsu under Tatsusaburo-Nakayama.
In 1910 Ohtsuka-Hironori entered Waseda University to learn commerce.
In 1917 he started work at the Kawasaki Bank; at this stage he was learning numerous styles of Ju-jutsu. Ohtsuka-Hironori met, and became good friends, with the founder of Aikido, Morihei-Ueshiba.
In May 1919 he became Master of 'bone-setting technique'.
On the 1st of July 1921 he received his Shindo-Yoshin-ryu Ju-jutsu licence from Tatsusaburo-Nakayama, and so became the Highest Authority.
He started his Karate training with the famous Gichin-Funikoshi in July 1922, a style known as Shorinryu. Ohtsuka-Hironori met Funikoshi Sensei during a martial arts demonstration at the Sports Festival organised by the Japanese Educational Department. Funikoshi Sensei agreed to teach Ohtsuka-Hironori all he knew about Okinawan Karate-jutsu, the lessons started that same day. Within one year Ohtsuka-Hironori had studied all the Kata within the system.
Even after this time Ohtsuka-Hironori could see the 'shortfall' in the Kata-only system. It was explained to him that all of the concepts of 'Budo' was within Kata, and that was the only aspect to train.
In 1924 Ohtsuka-Hironori introduced Yakusoku-gumite to the system, this concept of 'partner-work' revolutionised Karate-jutsu. He also developed Idori-no-Kata, Tachiai-no-Kata, and Shirahatori-no-Kata.
In 1928 he was 'Shindo-Yoshin-ryu Shihan', the Chief Instructor of his Shindo-Yoshin-ryu, he also set up a 'bone-setting' practice at this time.
In 1929 he registered with the 'Nippon-Kobudo-Shinko-Kai', the Japanese Martial Arts Federation.
In 1934 Ohtsuka-Hironori was recognised as an independent style, and started teaching full-time. Due to his dedication to Karate he had to close his 'bone-setting' business.
In 1938 Ohtsuka-Hironori registered his new style as Shin-Shu-Wado-ryu. In 1939 all Karate styles were asked to register their systems with the 'Dai-Nippon-Butoku-Kai', Ohtsuka-Hironori named his style Wado-ryu. Other styles that registered were Goju-ryu, Shito-ryu, and Shoto-ryu (Shotokan-ryu).
In 1940 on May the 5th the 'All Styles Karate Demonstrations' took place at Butoku-Den in Kyoto. All the major styles took part, these included Goju-ryu, Keishi-Kempo, Nippon-Kempo-ryu, Shito-ryu, Shoto-ryu, and Wado-ryu.
In 1944 Ohtsuka-Hironori was promoted to Chief Instructor of all Karate under the Dai-Nippon-Butoku-kai.
In 1945 the Americans, at the end of the Second World War, disbanded all martial arts. In 1951 all martial arts were reinstated, after the signing of the American peace treaty with Japan.
In 1955 the first Karate tournament took place, organised by Ohtsuka-Hironori, it was called the 'First All Japan Wado-ryu Karate Championships'.
In 1964 'The All Japan Karate-do Federation' (JKF) was established. This same year Suzuki-Tatsuo, Arakawa-Toru, and Takashima-Hajime introduced Wado-ryu to Great
Britain, Europe, and the United States of America.
In 1966 Ohtsuka-Hironori was awarded 'Kun-Goto-Soukuo-Kyo-Kuju-Jutsu-Sho' (similar to the OBE in Great Britain) from Emperor Hirohito for his dedication to Karate.
In 1972 he was awarded the title of Meijin from Higashino-Kunino-Miya (a member of the Japanese royal family) President of the International Martial Arts Federation the 'Kokusai-Budo-Renmei'.
Ohtsuka-Hironori was the first man in history to receive the highest honour in martial arts. For his services to Japanese martial arts, and to honour his new position as the highest Karate authority in Japan, he was awarded the Shiju-Hoosho medal from the Japanese Government, the only man in the history of Karate to be so honoured.